Bhubaneswar: Over 92.56 lakh voters will on Tuesday decide the fate of 417 candidates in the third phase of polls for six Lok Sabha and 42 assembly seats in Odisha, where pre-poll violence have left several injured, including an EC magistrate and a ruling party candidate.
A senior poll official said preparations for the third phase have reached the final stage and necessary steps have been taken to ensure free and fair voting in 10,464 booths.
"Polling will be held in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 assembly segments that come under them. All necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the polling staff reach the booths in time," he stated.
Claiming that adequate security arrangements have been made for Tuesday, a senior police officer said an investigation was being carried out into the incidents of violence that were reported on Sunday.
At Pipili in Puri district, a magistrate of an election flying squad and members of a static surveillance team (SST) were allegedly attacked by BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy and his supporters, when they had gone to the legislator's farmhouse to carry out a raid.
"Based on a complaint registered at Pipili police stations, Maharathy was arrested on Monday," the officer said.
In another incident, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik and his supporters came under attack in Ramchandrapur area of Keonjhar district.
Around 10 Congress workers, along with Patnaik, were injured and their vehicles damaged Sunday, the senior police officer said, adding that eight people have been arrested in the case so far.
In Bhubaneswar-Central Assembly seat, bombs were hurled at the vehicles of BJP and BJD candidates.
While BJP nominee Jagannath Pradhan managed to escape unhurt, Ananta Narayan Jena of the BJD, along with his associates, sustained injuries.
Satyajit Mohanty, the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police commissioner said, measures were being taken in the assembly seat, following assaults on the two nominees.
"Both Pradhan and Jena will be provided additional security on Tuesday," he stated.
Of the 10,464 booths, arrangements have been made for deployment of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in 748 booths, the poll official said.
"While CAPF has been deployed in the critical and sensitive booths, steps have been taken to maintain a close vigil in trouble-prone areas. Similarly, the election department has also made arrangements for live webcasting of the process from more than 800 booths," the official said.
Over 60,000 polling personnel have been engaged to conduct the third phase of elections, he said.
DGP (in-charge) B K Sharma has reviewed the preparedness for the third phase polls and directed police officers to take steps to ensure a peaceful election.
On the basis of feedback received from the first two phases, on April 11 and 18, arrangements have been made for providing tents and chairs in the booths to give respite to the voters from the scorching heat, the poll official said.
Vehicles have been deployed to transport differently abled voters, while wheel chairs and volunteers will be available for assistance at the polling booths, he added.
Of the 92.56 lakh electorate, 44,56,729 are women and 1,163 belong to the third gender.
The third phase of polls will decide the fate of 417 candidates. Six women were among the 61 hopefuls in the Lok Sabha constituencies. In the assembly seats, 37 of the 356 nominees are women.
Prominent candidates in the third phase are BJD MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Pinaki Mishra who are seeking re- election from Cuttack and Puri Lok Sabha seats respectively.
In Puri, Mishra is facing a stiff challenge from BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra.
For Mahtab, winning Cuttack might be an uphill task as the BJP has pitted former director general of CRPF and ex-DGP of Odisha, Prakash Mishra, against him. Also in the race is Congress nominee and ex-minister Panchanan Kanungo.
The prestigious Bhubaneswar parliamentary seat is witnessing an interesting fight with former IAS officer and BJP nominee Aparajita Sarangi crossing swords with former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik, who is in the fray as BJD candidate.
Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.
While first and second phase polls were held on April 11 and 18, two other phases are slated for Tuesday and April 29.